Tough new standards to foil recladding mishaps

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Auckland City Council has introduced a new process to check the recladding of buildings to give current and future owners greater confidence in the quality of remedial work.
Throughout New Zealand, reclads of buildings are becoming a common occurrence. Experience overseas, especially in Canada, reveals that a number of recladding systems have failed, incurring further loss and anxiety for home owners.

The council is advising the industry that it requires all remedial work for reclads to have a quality assurance plan and three additional inspection types at the beginning and during the work to ensure work undertaken is code compliant.

The new standards will ensure all involved are satisfied with the reconstruction process, and that adequate supervision is in place on-site while reconstruction takes place, giving owners greater assurance.
The council inspections will be done by specialist building officers and known as “category one inspections”.

Breaking new ground

Council principal building officer Bob de Leur says the council is breaking new ground with the quality assurance process, and he hoped it would eventually be adopted industry-wide.
“The unfortunate experience overseas is that people are having their homes reclad only to find the work is failing and the job needs to be done again,” he says. “That can amount to a huge financial burden, not to mention the stress involved.”

Mr de Leur says as a result of watertight issues, the recladding industry is in full swing with a range of consultants and other players involved.
“Many are very good but some, I’m afraid, don’t know what they are doing or are still coming up to standard with the potential for a bad outcome for owners.
“Lack of competence causes delays in the consenting process while adequate documentation is being provided for approval.
“Some people are being told they need to undertake more work than is necessary in fixing their homes and, in other cases, not enough is being done.”

The objective of the new process is to provide greater assurance for all parties — owners, consultants, architects and builders — requiring ownership of the process by all involved.
The three new inspection types must be completed in order to gain a code compliance certificate. 

They are:
• pre-construction meeting held on-site before any work and attended by the project manager, the builder, the owner or agent, relevant consultants engaged by the owner and council staff involved with the consent application,
• strip-off inspection when areas of the original cladding or wraps have been removed, and prior to any remedial framing. The same team must attend this meeting, and
• remedial works inspection carried out when work has been completed prior to new building wrap and recladding being fixed.

These new steps are followed by cladding inspections, the number depending on the type and complexity of the work, and a final inspection.
Many modern buildings were complex in design involving different angles and rooflines, which added to the risk of something going wrong, Mr de Leur says.

“We are putting an emphasis on including the other players such as consultants and designers in the inspection process. This will give greater confidence and educate the industry on the standards it should be striving for,” he says.

The new process affects all new consent applications for recladding projects.
“We have been working with the industry over the past 12 months to bed the process down with good results,” Mr de Leur says.